Practice innovations in mental health services to children and families: New directions for Massachusetts

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Mental Health Services; Massachusetts; Child; Adolescent; Family


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry and Psychology


This research report highlights selected findings that describe the characteristics of excellent,innovative programs for high‐risk children and adolescents in Massachusetts. The conclusions reported are based on interviews with administrators and providers at nine sites. A research consortium composed of policy makers, administrators, clinicians, and academic researchers recommended the site selections. The study describes a spectrum of innovative practices used to help youngsters in severe crises. Innovative practice was shaped by a common vision of doing treatment within family and community contexts, and coordinating overall care at all levels of the family's social and professional networks. Topics addressed include an examination of the core values directing these programs, the four distinct sub-types of design, therapeutic approaches, management, and evaluation. Obstacles to innovation are considered in light of current policy and practice limitations. The discussion concludes with a summary of the challenges and future directions for policy makers, funding agencies, program directors, and clinicians committed to addressing the current crisis in mental health care for children and youth.


Lightburn, A., Olson, M., Sessions, P., & Coffey, E. P. (2002). Practice Innovations in mental health services to children and families: New directions for Massachusetts. Smith Studies in Social Work, 72(2), 279-301.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Smith Studies in Social Work


At the time of publication, Mary Olson was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.